“The Lakota Philosophy of Healing Through Song”


“When we pray with our heart, we can never go wrong.” Warfield Moose, Jr.


Lakota songs carry powerful vibrations. A song sung from one’s heart can send waves of love and healing to all living beings as well as the universe.


Songs which are composed and sung by Lakota singers are very precious to me. Still, I know there are Lakota people who sit in judgment of our people who compose and/or sing songs, especially ceremonial songs. Personally, I am always happy to hear new ceremonial songs. It proves that our young singers are being gifted with new songs. It is a sign our people will continue to walk the ceremonial path of our powerful ancestors. Thus, we must encourage our Lakota singers and not judge them for their talent.


Our singers are very important people. Recently, I was asked to write a review of the CD composed by my good friends Warfield Moose, Jr. and Shilo Clifford. The CD is accompanied by a book written by Warfield and is titled “The Lakota Philosophy of Healing through Song.” The book contains beautiful images of Lakota people and places along with the stories behind each of the 13 songs. 


A forward by the late Albert White Hat, Sr. states in part “When Warfield’s dad went to the spirit world, my nephew came to work at St. Francis. We were having an Inipi, a sweat ceremony, and he came over and really honored me. He talked about his dad, who was his hero and the person he learned everything from. He said, my father is gone and I need an uncle. So would you mind if I called you uncle? It was a wonderful gift he gave me that day, to acknowledge me as a relative.”


“Leksi Albert and I would sit hours and hours talking about healing ourselves through songs and he told me we are all healers and the songs I sing will heal people just by listening. He said I didn’t have to meet everybody who listens to this CD but they will know you and they will get healing by singing your songs,” Warfield Moose, Jr.


The following paragraphs give the song titles and a short quote from the book.


Honoring My Father – “I dedicate this song to my father and all fathers who protect and guide their children. Sometimes we have to sing songs for them because they help us to become ikce wicasa – common men.”


Fire Without End – “This was a beautiful night when the spirit of the peta (fire) and the inyan (rock) gathered together to hear our voices through prayer and song. Hoka hey.”


Living – “When the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Woman brought the cannupa (sacred pipe) to our people, it was a time when we were strong in our prayers. Songs were composed in honor of this gift and Living is one of them.”


Green Grass – “My hope is this song will help people to heal and treat one another with love and respect.”


Mother – “To the Lakota people, Ina and Unci, Mother and Grandmother, are held in the highest regard because of the compassion and wisdom they bring to their families and this world.”


Cannupa Olowan – “My father explained that I should not call myself a pipe carrier, because it is the pipe that carries us. With our cannupa, we pray for all of the ones who need help: the sick, the orphans and those in prison. We pray for all walks of life and people, regardless of what kind of people they are. I see it as unconditional love and that’s why the cannupa is holy.”


Grandmother – “When I was young she took me to a healing ceremony in a darkened room. My grandmother explained that sometimes our eyes get us into trouble and we see things that hurt or bother us. When we aren’t able to see anything, our heart teaches our mind to trust and guides us to see good things.”


Has No Horse – “Our children, grandchildren and future generations have much to learn about our culture, history and language – but that’s the good part – because these teachings never end. There will always be something to come back when we need answers in our lives.”


Red Day – “There are people who appreciate every day they wake up to see the sun. My great grandfather, Frank Short Horn, whose Lakota name was Iyomakpe (I Am Happy), was such a person. My mother tells me a story about him, and how each morning he would use cedar to smudge throughout his home. He would cry and pray, thanking the Creator for a new day and offering prayers for our future generations.”


This Day I Pray – “You can get a better understanding of what is in a person’s heart by listening to how they speak to Tunkasila. My grandmother taught me that how we conduct ourselves is a reflection of our ancestors and relatives who raised us. I want to conduct myself in a way that honors the teachings of my parents and grandparents.”


Hoye Wayelo – “Whenever I sing Hoye Wayelo, I remember all of the young people who sing from their hearts without concern for whether they are making mistakes or trying to impress anyone.”


Wopila – “To the Lakota people, all we have, we give. We give so much that before someone is able to do something for us, we give to them. That is how we see Tunkasila: we have no expectations because we know in our hearts what we give of ourselves we have already received through the Creator.”


Remember Me – “This song was composed in the fall of 1997 and now it is sung everywhere – at many memorials and Sundance ceremonies. It makes me happy to hear young people carrying on this song. My wish is that it is sung how I composed it, with these teachings in mind. One of my father’s teaching says that people change, but not the ceremonies or the songs.”


These songs brought great encouragement and healing to me. I want to acknowledge and thank all the people who made this awesome project possible. I appreciate the opportunity to hear the songs and read the book. For more information please visit www.warfieldmoose.com and www.shicliff.com


I appreciate Warfield and Shilo allowing me to share my thoughts about their project. I also want to say Wopila to them for their tireless efforts in bringing healing to the people.


Mitakuye Oyasin.

Published by Vi Waln


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